30 Jan

Subject - Verb

Candidates who are about to appear in IBPS Bank PO/Clerk, SBI & other such competitive exams need to improve their understanding of fundamentals of English language. A strong performance on English section of the exam is possible only when one has the understanding of grammatical rules. Within grammar, Subject-Verb agreement is a highly relevant area. Keeping this in mind, one of the Top Bank Coaching Institutes in Delhi has prepared a ready reckoner of concepts and rules related to Subject-Verb agreement.

Subject Image

The subject is the doer of the action. Alternatively, it can be described as who or what the sentence is about. It is important for you to be able to identify the subject in the sentence. Once you have identified the subject, you need to check whether it agrees with the verb or not.

verb Image

Verbs are generally described as action words. They illustrate an action or some form of occurrence in the sentence. However, not all verbs are action words. Some verbs such as: is, am, are, was, were etc. describe the state and not the action.

Subject-Verb Agreement Rules

Rules Image

(I) When two subjects are joined together using ‘and’, a plural verb should be used.

  • Bread and butter are sold at my shop. (Plural verb has been used)
  • Alex and Courtney are my classmates. (Plural verb has been used)

(II) When two subjects are joined together using ‘and’ but they convey a singular meaning, then a singular verb should be used.

  • Fish and chips is my favorite dish. (Singular verb has been used)
  • Honour and glory is the reward that a soldier strives for. (Singular verb has been used)

(III) If two subjects are joined with correlative conjunctions such as: “either-or”, “neither-nor”, “not only-but also” etc., then the verb follows the subject that is closer to it.

  • Neither Soha nor her family members express their pain openly. (Closer subject is the “family members”)
  • Either Sam or his classmates shy away from their responsibilities. (Closer subject is the “classmates”)

(IV) When two subjects are joined with phrases such as: as well as, along with, together with, with all, accompanied with, in association with, in addition to etc., then the verb agrees with the primary subject.

  • The captain, as well as his soldiers, plays polo at the local club. (Primary subject is the “captain”)
  • The minister, along with his supporters, visits all the constituencies in the state. (Primary subject is the “minister”)

(V) Each, every, either, neither, everybody, everyone, anybody, anyone, somebody, someone, one etc. are examples of indefinite pronouns. Indefinite pronouns are singular and take singular verbs.

  • Either of the boys is a member of the local church choir. (“Either” is singular in nature)
  • Each of my friends readily believes whatever I say. (“Each” is singular in nature)

(VI) Although spellings of certain nouns end in “s” or “es”, yet they are singular and take singular verbs. Examples of such nouns are: news, economics, statistics, civics, politics, mathematics, physics, measles, mumps etc.

  • Measles, a viral infection, causes a lot of discomfort to the patient. (“Measles” is a singular subject)
  • The news of a soldier’s return from the battlefront brings great joy to all the relatives. (“News” is a singular subject)

(VII) Some of, all of, percent of, a lot of, fraction of, a majority of etc. follow the object of the preposition rule. If the object of the preposition is singular, then the verb used is singular and if it is plural, then the verb used is plural. That which follows the preposition is known as the object of the preposition.

  • Some of my acquaintances happen to be famous individuals. (A plural verb has been used because the object of the preposition “my acquaintances” is plural)
  • Some of it still remains to be explained to the investors. (A singular verb has been used because the object of the preposition “it” is singular)

(VIII) Certain nouns are considered to be plural in English language. Therefore, plural verbs need to be used when these nouns appear as the subject in a sentence. Examples of these nouns are: spectacles, scissors, jeans, trousers, pants, pincers, forceps, tongs etc.

  • These spectacles need to be repaired as soon as possible. (“Spectacles” is a plural subject)
  • The pants I bought yesterday have to be altered before evening. (“Pants” is a plural subject)

(IX) Singular verbs must be used when collective nouns appear as the subject in a sentence. This is so because collective nouns are considered singular in English grammar. Examples of collective nouns include class, jury, family, committee, fleet, crew, audience, organization etc.

  • The committee on fiscal deficit is against the idea of any increase in the subsidies. (“Committee” is a singular subject)
  • Our multicultural family celebrates all festivals with great enthusiasm. (“Family” is a singular subject)

(X) Any amount of money, length of distance and duration of time are singular. A singular verb must be used for them.

  • Five thousand pounds is not enough to buy a jet plane. (“Five thousand pounds” is a singular subject)
  • One thousand miles separates Delhi from Kolkata. (“One thousand miles” is a singular subject)
  • Two hours is enough to complete the task that has been allotted to our team. (“Two hours” is a singular subject)

(XI) If the sentence has a positive and a negative subject where one is plural and the other singular, then the verb follows the positive subject.

  • It’s not the teachers but the chairman who ultimately takes all the decisions. (“Chairman” is the positive subject)
  • It is the views of an orator, not his persona, that matter to an intelligent and mature audience. (“Views” is the positive subject)

(XII) In sentences that begin with “here” and “there” the subject comes after the verb; however it still determines whether the verb used will be singular or plural.

  • Here are my friends who also happen to be my partners in crime. (“Friends” is a plural subject)
  • There goes the man responsible for this wrongdoing. (“Man” is a singular subject)

The rules described above will be significantly useful in sentence error spotting and sentence improvement questions. These questions together carry around 10 to 15 marks in the exam. However, memorizing these rules is not enough to score well on such questions. You must also have access to quality doubt clearing support that is provided only at the Best Bank PO Coaching Institute in Delhi.


This blog discusses all the important fundamentals related to Subject-Verb agreement in a lucid and easily comprehensible style. However, to share any feedback or to get any sort of guidance from Vidya Guru faculty members, you can write to vidyagurudelhi@gmail.com.

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